Are You Carving a Pumpkin This Year?

Image courtesy of Jiap at
If your kids are grown, chances are your pumpkin carving days are over.  You've passed the ceremonial carving kit to the next generation.

Maybe your kids are old enough to start carving their own pumpkins so you can at least be done with scooping goop.

If your kids are small, you're still stuck with the job.

Choosing the Perfect Pumpkin

Where do you go to choose your perfect pumpkin?

Some take seasonal hay rides that stop by a pumpkin patch brimming with pumpkins of all sizes, colors, shapes, and textures.  Smoother surfaces are ideal for pumpkin painting, but bumpy pumpkins are loaded with character.    

Other families visit a local farmer's market to peruse the pumpkin harvest options.

Avid gardeners might grow their own pumpkins.

Of course, grocery stores and home improvement places like Home Depot carry an ample stock, and it's very convenient to swing in and snag one to save time.

Selecting a Pumpkin Face

The Internet is filled with printable stencils to help you carve the perfect pumpkin, but what fun is that?  Pumpkins turn out the best (or most comical) when you apply your imagination and personal flair.  

In past years, our pumpkin carvings have included a cat, Minecraft Creeper, double-chinned pumpkin, the world's happiest pumpkin, a girl pumpkin with lashes and a bow, a kissing emoji, and a traditional face.

This year, our kids chose tears of joy emoji and Super Mario goomba faces.

Carving the Pumpkin

This is the messy part, so be sure to find a work space where clean up is the easiest.  

If the weather is warm enough, carve your pumpkin on the deck, outdoor table, or driveway so you can hose off the mess or whisk it away with Lysol and a few swipes of an old towel.

Should the weather not cooperate, look for a smooth surface near your sink or utility tub where the floor is not carpeted.  Lay out newspaper to absorb some of the mess.

You know the rest--cut off the top for the lid, and start scooping the guts into a bucket.  Once the pumpkin is hollowed out, you can carve the face.

About this point in time, your kids have run off to play and you're questioning why you bother.

Your carving kit can be a kitchen knife and a large serving spoon for scooping, a $4.00 Walmart special, or a sophisticated heavy duty set.

Preserving Your Pumpkin

If you carve your jack-o-lantern too soon, it will be shriveled and moldy before Halloween.  If you wait until just a few days before the celebration, you miss out on the enjoyment of seeing it lit leading into the holiday.

Experts suggest fully submersing your pumpkin in a water-bleach solution for at least eight hours or overnight to kill all the microorganisms that hasten decay.

If you want to bother with that arduous process and risk bleach staining a perfectly good outfit when you accidentally splash yourself with the solution, go right ahead.

Personally, we carve ours a week before Halloween and then throw them in the garbage can the day after Halloween when the kids are in school.  They never notice--out of sight, out of mind.

Environmentalists recommend leaving your rotting pumpkin outside so wildlife can use it as a food source.  That's great for those who think the world needs more pesky squirrels and gross bugs infesting their yards. I'm good with the trash can. 

Roasting the Pumpkin Seeds

If you like to torture yourself by separating the seeds from the muck to roast them, have fun!   

A quick, online search will help you find the recipe that fits your family's taste buds.

At my house, everyone is excited about the prospect of munching on seeds from their own pumpkins, and the smell of them roasting is tantalizing.  Unfortunately, the fascination is fleeting.  Once everyone has tasted a small sample, the seeds are stored away, grow stale, and are tossed.  

We no longer roast seeds.

Watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"

One tradition that never grows old is watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! the evening of the pumpkin carving.  Unlike Linus, most kids won't accuse you of killing their pumpkins!  


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